SEOUL, KOREA — “Korea’s source of industrial competitiveness is shifting from hardware to software.”
“Software itself is the most active growth engine, and the core means to lead the innovation in overall national industries,” Young-joo Lee, Deputy Director at S/W & IT Convergence Division of Ministry of Knowledge Economy, explained.
He also added, “In reality, even though our software companies have enough potential in creativity and technology, they are currently not up to creating global brands.”
The project called World Best Software (WBS) that is setting the stage for Korea to become a software power is currently in the final stage. It is not common for domestic software to be greeted in the global market with success. Even in the domestic market, over 80% of our software is controlled by foreign companies. For three years now the government has been working on WBS as a business-centered project, targeting the world market from the planning stage in order to break through the status quo of Korea’s software. Currently, Korea hasn’t created well-known global brands except for Samsung and LG. The large-scale project has been promoted so that domestic software companies can focus on research and development with a long-term prospective by reducing the burden to make short-term profits.
What is the WBS project
The WBS project was designed in consideration of various factors to improve the industrial competitiveness of our software companies including supporting the development by small- and medium-sized companies. It will be finished by 2013 after investing 160 billion won over the course of three years.
The WBS project is led by companies in order to create practical outcomes from the development. It allowed for the development of software that meets the market demand by letting individual companies participate in the development consortium. The National IT Industry Promotion Agency (Nipa) took charge of the quality control in all of the development stages. This was done to prevent a case where nobody pays attention to the development outcome in the market due to the hit-or-miss development practice, or having no management system in place. These measures are all for the sake of the development of quality software required in the global market. The project also motivated the development urge of software companies by granting the intellectual property rights resulting from the process of technology development to the actual software development companies rather than the agency in charge of the project. Each software company will be able to get the intellectual property for their share of development.
Starting in 2010 from the 7 tasks of software development including automobile, medicine, and airline, this number grew to 20 tasks were set up in 2011 by adding smart TV and national defense. Currently, 27 development tasks are on the go, which will be phased out from March till the end of 2013.
In fact, the project is seeing some tangible results such as overseas exports and purchase contracts during the process of each task. Therefore, it is expected to have a number of successful cases after 2013 when all the tasks are completed. Infinite Consortium received calls of praise from hospitals in the United States and Europe by developing the system to store and transmit 3D medical images, and Ahnlab Consortium is entering the Japanese market soon. EZCaretech Consortium is gaining attention from overseas buyers with its hospital management software.
Supporting Policy of Software R&D, 2013
Deputy Director Lee explained, “The national software R&D is the core, meaning that it provides momentum and infrastructure for the software development by pre-investing in technology development for software with limited market power.” The current policy is to reinforce the role of R&D as a seed for the overall industrial development of based on software technology.
The Ministry of Knowledge Economy has a policy in place to support each software group’s R&D based on its policy goal starting in 2013. The ministry will divide software R&D into the four fields of developing national innovative technology, securing leading technology, fostering professional enterprises, and discovering creative individuals and businesses. Different development goals and evaluation methods will be applied to each field.
The software R&D for developing national innovative technology is a large-scale project that invests 10 billion KRW annually over a maximum 10-year period. As Apple’s Siri started from public R&D and became its historic product, it intends to create global brands made in Korea by researching the outcome achieved through the WBS project.
The software R&D for developing national innovative technology refers to the development of huge software including big-data software, computing technology, and automated cooperation systems. Since it is difficult for individual companies to develop due to high costs and risks, this type of R&D is reinforced with top-down planning. While the WBS project is implemented with the goal of entering the market, this R&D will be pushed toward producing outcome. It will introduce a competitive system evaluating the performance of individual developers and promote the systematic role division by the industry-university collaboration.
The software R&D for fostering professional enterprises refers to support for the technology development of competitive commercial software in the global market. It is a measure for fostering small- and medium-sized software businesses and expanding their share in the global market by carrying on the goal of the WBS project that will lose its financial support this year and including this project into regular R&D.
A different evaluation index will be in place to reflect the characteristics of software and policy goals of software R&D. More new items such as the spread of the development technology and quality control will be added to the existing items including the achievement of individual goals (30%), technological value (20%), commercial value (50%), all of which will be applied differently depending on the type of software R&D. The spread of technology that contributes to creating new products based on developed software technology will be evaluated as an achievement.
Moreover, the agency plans to maximize the achievement of individual tasks by reinforcing flexibility. For example, it will present a separate evaluation index that reflects the characteristics of each task within limits or allow more weight to some evaluation items than others. Along with this, it will support groups by helping to create actual commercial value with the outcome of software R&D. This is to urge the promotion of commercialization and overseas expansion.
Despite its success, the successful outcome of R&D was not commercialized but dismissed due to the lack of verification in real settings and overseas experience. The government intends to lead the smooth commercialization of the R&D outcome through active connection with other supporting businesses by supporting the superior R&D outcome and helping it enter the overseas market.